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Physicians Call for Pragmatic Solutions to End Nuclear Tests Threat

February 12, 2013

Washington, D.C. - Physicians for Social Responsibility condemns the Democratic Republic of North Korea's (DPRK) nuclear test detonation. This move will isolate the DPRK and make it increasingly difficult for diplomatic talks to succeed in decreasing tensions within the region.

DPRK Leader Kim Jong-un conducted the test despite warnings from China and the United States. "North Korea's nuclear test makes clear that the international community’s current strategy of economic sanctions is not effective," Dr. Catherine Thomasson said. "Without more effort by the U.S. and other nuclear powers, to truly reduce and de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons, governments like DPRK will continue to strive to develop them as a deterrent and, more worrisome, as an aggressive weapon.  We applaud the efforts of the Obama administration in taking steps in the right direction by passing and ratifying the New Start Treaty and to reduce the number of nuclear weapons we hold. This incident demonstrates that more must be done."

Countries, like North Korea, are also unlikely to abide by international demands to stop their nuclear weapons tests while their adversaries are free from those restrictions. We need to create an international ban against global nuclear testing through the U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has been signed by 183 countries and ratified by 159. To enter into force, however, the CTBT must be signed and ratified by 44 specific States. These States participated in the negotiations of the Treaty in 1996 and possessed nuclear power or research reactors at the time. Thirty-six of these States have ratified the Treaty, including the three nuclear weapon States - France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom. Of the eight remaining States, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the United States have signed the Treaty, whereas the DPRK, India and Pakistan have not yet signed it.

"Without a clear international mandate against nuclear testing, we will continue to see the development of nuclear technology through these test detonations," Dr. Thomasson said. "With modern computer simulations, the national security case for nuclear test detonations no longer exists which is why the U.S. has not conducted a nuclear test detonation since 1992. We are already informally abiding by this treaty so we may as well get the benefit of its legal force by ratifying it as soon as possible."


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